Which of the SEVEN UK airport lounges opening soon am I most looking forward to?

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2019 is gearing up to be a good year for UK airport lounge openings.  The last six months have already seen the new No 1 Lounge in Edinburgh (review), the new SkyLife lounge at Southend (review), the No 1 Clubrooms in Birmingham (review to come) and MyLounge at London Gatwick’s South Terminal (review).

There are more on the way. Because the news has been coming through in bits and pieces you might not appreciate how much building work is going on, so I thought it would be good to do a summary.

Just for fun, I have scored each lounge out of 10 on two criteria:

the first mark is ‘Quality estimate:’ where I say how impressive I think the decor, food and drink offering will be

the second mark is for ‘Customer benefit:’ which is based on how much I think the lounge will improve your airport experience based on the current state of the airport and the other lounges available

After all, an average lounge in an airport which doesn’t currently have one is arguably more useful than a good lounge at an airport which is already full of them.

Lomond Lounge Glasgow Airport

Glasgow Airport – The Lomond Lounge

  • Opening date: early August 2019
  • Quality estimate: 8
  • Customer benefit: 7

I have started with The Lomond Lounge because I didn’t even know this was coming until a reader tipped me off last week.  The Lomond Lounge is an uber-premium lounge, priced at £40 per person.  According to the airport website here, it will

“offer signature cocktails, a specially selected a la carte menu and spectacular views of the runway in a relaxing and luxurious environment.”

At £40, with presumably no access via Priority Pass etc, it is unclear who will use this.  I imagine that the airport has done a deal with certain airlines to take their premium passengers as I doubt it would be viable on its own.  The dummy menus online do look impressive, including cooked-to-order pizza.

In terms of competition, I think the British Airways lounge (reviewed here) is very pleasant.  I can’t see any BA passengers with inclusive lounge access paying for The Lomond Lounge.  The existing independent Glasgow lounge, Upperdeck, which I reviewed here is big and bright but underwhelming in terms of decor, furnishings and food, so I expect a big improvement.  This lounge will raise the bar at Glasgow and I look forward to trying it out.

No 1 Clubrooms lounge Edinburgh

Edinburgh Airport – No 1 Clubrooms

  • Opening date: unknown but 2019
  • Quality estimate: 8
  • Customer benefit: 5

A brand new No 1 Lounge opened earlier this year at Edinburgh Airport – we reviewed it here.  There is more to come, however, as the area next door is being turned into a Clubrooms lounge.  The company has yet to announce this on its website so you need to trust us!

Clubrooms is No 1’s premium brand with table service and free champagne.  No 1 does an excellent job at designing attractive and welcoming spaces so I think we can look forward to a quality product.  You cannot get in for free with a lounge club card, however, unless you pay a £15 surcharge on the door.

Edinburgh is not short of lounges. Apart from No 1 – which is good, and which will satisfy most people – there is an Aspire lounge (average, reviewed here) and for BA travellers a dedicated BA lounge (review).  This is very large but, based on my visit last month, in need of a full refurbishment.

No 1 Clubrooms lounge Luton Airport

Luton Airport – No 1 Clubrooms

  • Opening date: July 2019
  • Quality estimate: 8
  • Customer benefit: 6 (8 if it accepts lounge club cards)

Edinburgh isn’t the only airport to gain Clubrooms.  A facility at Luton Airport is due to open in July.

This will be the first time that No 1 has opened a Clubrooms lounge without already having a standard No 1 Lounge.  This raises questions over whether they will allow Priority Pass access.  I doubt they would be allowed to charge an ‘upgrade supplement’ when there is no No 1 Lounge to upgrade from!

The other lounge at Luton is Aspire, which we reviewed here.  This lounge is fairly new but, because it is usually very busy (and because the airport itself is a mess) I have given Clubrooms a higher ‘Customer benefit’ score than Edinburgh.

With few (any?) airlines offering business class out of Luton, it will be very interesting to see if Clubrooms can pay its way if it does not allow Priority Pass access.  More details can be found on the No 1 website here.

Gatwick Airport (South Terminal) – Club Aspire

  • Opening date: 1st August 2019
  • Quality estimate: 7
  • Customer benefit: 8

This lounge has suffered from excessive delays – it was due in early 2019.  It is taking over about 2/3rd of the old Virgin Atlantic lounge – the other 1/3rd became MyLounge, which has been open for months and which we reviewed here.

This is a much needed lounge.  If you can access the British Airways lounges then you’re fine (see my review here of the EXCELLENT new BA Gatwick lounge complex).  If you are relying on Priority Pass etc, your only option is the No 1 Lounge (reviewed here).  The problem is that No 1 Lounge runs to 100% capacity most of the time and you are unlikely to get in unless you pay £5 to reserve a slot.

Priority Pass seems to be deliberately not working with Gatwick South’s MyLounge.  Collinson, the company behind Priority Pass, is also a 50% shareholder in Club Aspire lounges and probably wants to drive traffic there.  I am guessing that this is also why Plaza Premium in Heathrow Terminal 5 does not accept it, since it competes with Club Aspire.

Club Aspire lounges lack the flair of No 1 Lounges but they are solid and dependable.  Because this lounge should relieve the Priority Pass crisis at Gatwick South I gave it a high ‘Customer benefit:’ score.

Bournemouth Airport lounge

Bournemouth Airport – Premium Lounge

  • Opening date: Was 1st June, now ‘missing in action’
  • Quality estimate: 5
  • Customer benefit: 9

Bournemouth Airport was due to open its first lounge on 1st June.  We wrote about this back in February and an image is above.

The lounge seems to have disappeared, however!  The official page on the airport website has been taken down.  It is still theoretically bookable via the airport website but there are no dates when it shows as available.

I wasn’t expecting a huge amount from this lounge, given that it appeared that the airport was going to operate it directly.  On the other hand, as the airport has no lounge at all today, it is a major improvement for everyone who passes through it.

EDIT: it now appears that the lounge has been delayed until at least December following construction delays. It will be above the duty free shop.

Amex heathrow centurion lounge entrance

Heathrow Airport Terminal 3 – American Express Centurion Lounge

  • Opening date:  late 2019
  • Quality estimate: 9
  • Customer benefit: 3

The American Express Centurion Lounge network has an excellent reputation.  Over the last few years Amex has opened a number of these spaces across the US and Hong Kong and feedback has been great.  The only problem has been overcrowding.

They are open to all Platinum and Centurion charge card holders, plus guests.

It is fantastic news that Amex is opening in London.  It is less fantastic that they are opening in Terminal 3.  It is a HUGE waste.  Terminal 3 probably has the best collection of airport lounges in the world.  OK, the BA and AA spaces are poor but you’ve got two great Cathay Pacific lounges (review), the Qantas lounge, the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse (review) and, for Priority Pass cardholders, two well regarded options in the No 1 Lounge (review) and Club Aspire lounge (review).

The Centurion Lounge should be better than the two existing Priority Pass lounges but it won’t add much.

PremiAir Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport – PremiAir

  • Opening date:  September 2019
  • Quality estimate: 9
  • Customer benefit: 9

This is hard to believe, I accept, but Manchester Airport is building a private ‘pay to use’ terminal at the airport.  For £50, passengers with just hand baggage and a boarding pass can go directly to the PremiAir terminal and its lounge.  You will be transported directly to your departure gate for boarding.

For £100, you can check in luggage at the PremiAir terminal and be driven directly to the steps of your aircraft.  For £125, you can book a dedicated arrivals service where you will be met at the aircraft and driven to the PremiAir terminal for private passport control and luggage collection.

The existing airport lounges at Manchester are not great, to be polite, and the Priority Pass ones are usually full.  Our recent review of Escape in Terminal 2 is typical.  The airport experience if you cannot get into a lounge is terrible.  PremiAir cannot come soon enough and I can’t wait to try it.

All in all, there is a lot to look forward to in 2019 and we’ll keep you up to speed.  And please let me know if you have any idea what is happening with Bournemouth …..

Getting airport lounge access via a UK credit card

As a reminder, here are the three options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit or charge card:

The Platinum Card from American Express 

Two free Priority Pass cards (one for you, one for your supplementary Platinum cardholder, each admitting two – so a family of four gets in free) giving access to every lounge in the Priority Pass network – search it here.  You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta and Eurostar lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here but read this first about the changes coming on 11th June.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold 

You get a Lounge Club card loaded with two free visits to any Lounge Club network lounge – see the list here.  The list is slightly shorter than the Priority Pass list, but not by much.  Additional visits are charged at £20 per person.  You get two more free visits for every year you keep the card.  No annual fee in Year 1.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard 

You get a free LoungeKey card allowing you access to any property in the LoungeKey network.  Guests are charged at £20 although regular travellers will find it cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card (adults only, of course).  The card has an annual fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer.  Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.

There are some other World Elite Mastercards on the market which also offer LoungeKey.  It is also worth flagging that the Miles & More Global Traveller cards come with a one-off pass for a Lufthansa airport lounge.

Our review of the three lounges at Leeds Bradford Airport - which is best?
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Comments

  1. Munch says:

    OT Just completed my first statement on my IHG credit card. The total points have posted correctly in the overall total but the qualifying points towards my status have only part posted. Do only certain credit card points go towards status?

  2. Travel Strong says:

    Centurion in LHR T3 is great news for platinum card holders flying in economy or premium economy.

    Is the ranking of 3 subconsciously biased by not flying economy since the ark?

    The aspire/no1 lounges are regularly full, and the other lounges are out of scope if not gold or flying business – which I gather makes up the majority of Hfp readership, if not the majority of commentators.

    • My impression was that Aspire / No 1 were less full in T3 than elsewhere, and of course you can pay No 1 £5 to reserve a slot. And, yes, a large % of our readers have status or are in premium cabins.

      As an Amex Plat cardholder, by defaults, gets access to Aspire and No 1 this lounge is never going to add much. And if you think Aspire and No 1 are overcrowded, you haven’t seen anything compared to how busy the US Centurion lounges get. With all of the Delta and AA passengers in T3 with Plat cards it will be heaving from Day 1.

      • paulm says:

        Any idea where in T3 the centurion is going ? Are they taking over someone else’s space ?

        • Shoestring says:

          Probably up to the left near Club Aspire, they seem to be able to create lounge space up there

      • Doug M says:

        Yes, came through Philadelphia flying AA on Monday and as usual no access to BA lounge, busy/Qatar usual excuses. The AA lounge is a bit meh, so give Centurion a go. Nice food and drink, good place, but was crowded. Centurion really welcoming, they seemed really pleased to have guests. Had some food and coffee there and then moved to AA to just relax. The AA lounge is huge, but doesn’t have much other than lots of room.
        Departed T5 for this trip and a little bored with BA first lounge so tried Plaza Premium. Again very welcoming, if didn’t have BA status Amex Plat would be a good route to lounge access, especially where there are Centurion lounges available.

  3. Given the US-centric nature of the Centurion lounge network, T3 is hardly a surprising choice. I count 54 flights today from T3 to the USA, compared to 36 from T5 and 18 from T2.

    • Totally agree, that’s why they are doing it. It is pathetic that Amex is using this lounge as one of key justifications for hiking the Platinum fee to £575, because 90% of flights taken by Plat cardholders from Heathrow will be from other terminals and 80% of lounge guests will, I guess, be yanks.

      • marcw says:

        Blame Heathrow for having 5 (4) Terminals.

      • Michael says:

        Vote with your wallet people……….

      • I get that it’s not of interest to people who don’t regularly fly to the US, and of course the Platinum marketing is disingenuous, but really, where does this 90% come from?

        I’d imagine this lounge is of significant interest to anyone who travels to the US regularly…

        • No idea what % of pax at Heathrow use T3 but the % would be a lot lower if you only looked at UK residents.

          • I’m not sure why you believe massively move Yanks than Brits travel transatlantic. I’m not at all sure it’s true.

          • Aisak says:

            Looking up wiki, there is no info on T3. But:

            “In 2015, Terminal 2 handled 16.7 million passengers on 116,861 flights and 22.5% of the airport’s passengers on 25.2% of its flights”

            “In 2015, Terminal 5 handled 33.1 million passengers on 215,716 flights; 44.6% of the airport’s passengers on 46.6% of its flights”

            Also no info on T4, but at least with these two data we can make an educated guess

          • So, on those numbers, safe to say T3 is about 20% of pax but majority will not be UK citizens. My 10% guess is about right.

        • Doug M says:

          @Roy. I think they mean through T3. Almost all BA – USA flights use T5, Brits to USA more likely to be through T5 than T3.

  4. Shoestring says:

    Noodle bar!

    • Shoestring says:

      The Australian!

      • Shoestring says:

        A double JDs over ice seemed about right for the American lounge!

        With a Bud to quench my thirst 😎

        • Shoestring says:

          And into Galleries, pretty busy _Qantas and AA were dead _ but easily the best red/ white wine selection, hundreds of them! Just got my Champagne!

          Then I will sample as in sample size glasse some of the more interesting ones

          • The Streets says:

            I was sampling the new brewdog Avios IPA yesterday… worth a can or two!

          • Shoestring says:

            Back to Australia for the lamb and a glass of red, pink gin seemed to go down well, now back in Chinatown to try the 2 champagnes again!

          • Shoestring says:

            Epic! Better get that plane!

          • Darren says:

            Sounds like you enjoyed T3, well played.

  5. OT – another week gone by and still no letter from Lloyds. It would be ideal if my 0% FX lasted till the end of August…

  6. stevenhp1987 says:

    OT – Does anyone know if Virgin treats TransferWise as a purchase or cash advance?

  7. sunguy says:

    OT – just noticed something unappealingly odd on Hilton UK…

    Looking at Hilton LGW for end of June – prices are showing with this at the top:

    Price per night (GBP) Plus £1.00 GBP service charge per stay

    I can see this as another stealth “tax” by Hilton to get their room prices per night down in advertising…..oh dear!

    • They will never get away with that …. ASA will come down like a ton of bricks on them, as did when Trump Turnberry tried the ‘resort fee’ trick.

      • The Savage Squirrel says:

        Indeed. If you want just Email the Independent (who have a bee in their bonnet about this issue) and watch them disappear…

    • This £1 has been charged for nearly a year now. It comes up as a charitable donation on your folio.

      Non UK Hiltons often have taxes or fees not included in the price displayed on initial results page. I am not sure if this is legal.

  8. Paul B says:

    No1 in LHR T3 has a gate price of £40 and you can use with Priority Pass so why wouldn’t other lunges with a gate price of £40 not be included as you have indicated with the Lomond lounge?

    I used the No1 at LHR T3 on Saturday 18/5. It was far too busy, really difficult to find a seat with a couple of sections and table roped off or reserved. And why do they limit 1 hot food snack per person. The food was pretty awful. I had the beans on toast. The toast was clearly barely shown a toaster, the beans hotter than a McDonalds apple pie, clearly having been microwave heated and a thimble of cheese. I mean that’s less than £1 worth of food right there. But I can have unlimited alcohol? Doesn’t make sense to me. And extremely poor value for money even with a priority pass. Doesn’t compare to the better airline lounges.

    • Shoestring says:

      How can it be poor value for money when you’re getting in free with priority pass?

      I like no1 t3 though it does get very busy, definitely worth the £5 reservation fee if you have PP

    • sunguy says:

      Unfortunately, it makes perfect sense…..

      Food as a complete, total and utter cost centre for them – it has to be bought, kept correctly, made, cooked, served, thrown out, looked after and they are doing this entirely out of their own pockets.

      If they put enough food and didnt limit, it would cost them profits, booze however is a completely different kettle of fish…

      Often, they will have supplier deals, a good way to market your product by making yourself one of a few spirits or beers, etc.. so, people “have” to drink/try your product.

      Also, compared to food, drinks have a very long shelf life and are easy to store. Also, you dont need someone to serve or make anything, so you dont need anyone even skilled enough to use a microwave, so less wages to pay.

      Paid-for lounges are selling a service and all they do is purely for profit …and as they have a captive audience, its not as important as out in the real world.

      Airline lounges are there as part of the “experience” with the airline … crappy lounges hurt their brand, and have a long term effect on the people they need the most – frequent flyers and business/first pax.

      Unfortunately, just like airport duty free or WH Smith Travel(other rip-off airside shops are avaialble) – its purely money that they are after, nothing else and if you are the only folks selling what people want, people will use it due to no or very much lack of choice.

  9. NYC123 says:

    Can you use the 2 x Free Lounge club passes for Clubrooms (Gatwick)? I see you can prebook for ?£15 and select lounge club but its not listed on the Lounge Club website?

    • They let you pay to upgrade on the day with a card, so I am guessing this is OK.

    • stevenhp1987 says:

      It’s an upgrade for £15 on top of your lounge pass.

      I much prefer Clubrooms over No1! Better food, drinks & service.

      Worth the extra £10 (£5 to reserve No1) in my opinion.

    • NYC123 says:

      Appears this was answered in the article: “You cannot get in for free with a lounge club card, however, unless you pay a £15 surcharge on the door.”

      Next question: I added myself as a supplementary card holder to my wifes amex for the 3000mr points, do i get 2 free lounge club visits with the supplementary card?

      • stevenhp1987 says:

        Amex Gold?

        Only the main account holder get’s a LoungeClub card. The LoungeClub card has 2 free passes on it. Supplementary holders do not get their own.

  10. TescoTease says:

    OT- Rita Ora at the O2 tonight in the Marriott lounge. Any other HFP readers going?

  11. OT: Looks like Rhys has been injecting so renewed vigour to the shopper points site 🙂

    • EwanG says:

      Got to make up for the reduced Amex commission somehow!!

      Maybe Harry could help too, although with his record of posting stuff which falls foul of the censor, maybe that’s not such a good idea! 😉

    • It’s not a cunning plan, there is just quite a bit going on at the moment! Without Tesco bonus deals we are desperately tight on content and, importantly, as Nectar doesn’t pay we have no way of monetising it apart from teeny bits of ad revenue (£224 last month). It has occasional uses though – we will run the Amazon Business deal on there again next week.

      • Shoestring says:

        This weekend is Nectar weekend, I hope hfp is on the case

        Easy to get a shed load of nectars just by buying some £1 items at Sainsburys

      • Have you tried discussing loyalty, advertising et with Aldi and Lidl? Get the feeling if they now dabble in that it could send further tremors through the competition.

        • The numbers don’t justify it. HFP dominates its niche – if you want to make a big splash with UK frequent flyers, you come to us and we sort it out for you. It is genuinely the difference between success and failure for some Avios and BA partners – apparently 70% of the Alan Boswell Insurance Avios sales came from HFP vs 30% from being promoted on avios.com (moving to ba.com soon). SP is a far smaller site and in a MUCH bigger pond, we have no real influence.

          • Michael says:

            I like SP – but why bother if it’s bringing in such little revenue?

          • It takes 10 minutes to knock up a story and if we don’t post for a week no-one minds. I have considered closing it but there is a big social media base and if a good monetisable deal turns up it would be a shame not to be able to access it.

            All hosting costs etc are effectively free as it piggy backs HFP.

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